Manchester City-Norwich City Preview
LONDON (SE) - Both managers have called for improved performances from their sides ahead of Saturday's clash between Norwich and Manchester City at Carrow Road.
Norwich have slipped to 11th place and are looking to avoid a third successive league defeat after being beaten 2-1 at West Bromwich three days before Christmas and then losing 1-0 at home to Chelsea on Boxing Day.
Canaries boss Chris Hughton praised his side's physical effort against Chelsea but was unhappy with the way his players lost possession, especially in the build-up to Juan Mata's winning goal for the Londoners.
"The area I was disappointed in during the first half was that, we have been good on the ball, but we were a little bit loose and it allowed them to have three or four good counter-attacks," said Hughton after the Chelsea match. "We dealt with them eventually very well but it was a ball that was given away (that led to the goal), they broke very well and we got bodies around the ball but I think you have to admire the strike."
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is desperate for his strikers to rediscover their goal-scoring form after a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland on Boxing Day left the defending Premier League champions in second place on 39 points, seven adrift of current leaders and archrivals Manchester United.
"I don't know how it's possible to lose this game, I think we played very well but we have one problem - we need to score… our strikers need to improve," bemoaned Mancini after the Sunderland defeat. "We need to change something in our team because we can't continue like this - we score too few goals.
"Sometimes we take too many touches and we think, 'never mind, we can score next time,' but we can't be like that - in football, it doesn't work like that. We have to be stronger in the penalty area."
City have scored 34 goals in 19 league matches, with their four highly valued main strikers - Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko contributing just three goals between them in the last eight games.
Tevez and Aguero, however, were on form last season when the two teams played at Carrow Road on April 14. Manchester City won 6-1, with Tevez hitting a hat-trick and Aguero twice finding the back of the net. Aguero along with Balotelli also scored when City beat Norwich 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium last December.
Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart remains confident his side can overturn United's lead at the top of the table.
"We have had leads, United have had the lead - it's to-ing and fro-ing at the moment," the England international told his club website. "We are a team of winners. It's hard and it hurts, but we have got to move on. It is hard to lead and it is hard to chase too.
"We have clawed points back before, we proved it at the end of last year. We have just got to believe."
Norwich defender Steven Whittaker will miss Saturdays' game due to a hip injury.